I'd like to announce that my second book The Authenticity of Faith: The Varieties and Illusions of Religious Experience is now available. It can be purchased here from Amazon or, if Amazon runs out (UPDATE: they have), here at the ACU Press website.
The book description:
A psychologist tests Freud's claims that faith is a form of wishful thinking and belief in God a consoling illusion.Some of the book endorsements:
Is faith simply a form of wishful thinking? Is belief in God merely a consoling illusion? So argued Sigmund Freud in The Future of an Illusion. And the force of Freud's argument continues to be felt as it features prominently among critics of religion such as the New Atheists.
But was Freud right? Until now, few have directly examined the plausibility of Freud's argument. But here, in a groundbreaking analysis inspired by the religious types described by William James in his seminal The Varieties of Religious Experience, Richard Beck explores the motivational dynamics among ''summer Christians'' and ''winter Christians.'' Further, across a variety of laboratory studies, Beck examines how Christians variously engage with art (exploring what Beck has dubbed ''The Thomas Kinkade Effect''), doctrine (from the Incarnation to beliefs regarding the activity of the devil), and religious difference in a pluralistic world. In each instance, Beck analyzes the underlying motivations of the religious types, sifting through the varieties and illusions of religious experience.
The Authenticity of Faith presents a radical ''New Apologetics,'' an attempt to move beyond contentious philosophical and theological disputes to examine the scientific merits of Freud's critique of faith. Here is an unlikely journey--the scientific search for an authentic faith; the outcome is sure to inspire reflection, conversation, and debate among believers and skeptics alike.
''Many scholars have studied the relationship of psychology and Christianity in recent decades, but only a few offer the fresh creativity that Dr. Richard Beck brings to the task. The Authenticity of Faith will make us think, and then it will make us think again, and ultimately it will foster a living faith characterized by depth, relevance, and wisdom.''As I've mentioned before, I thank the readers of this blog in the Acknowledgements. There is reads:--Mark R. McMinn, PhD, Professor of Psychology, George Fox University; author of Sin and Grace in Christian Counseling
''Richard Beck artfully blends psychological theory, empirical research, and theology to tackle a challenging question: Are religious beliefs motivated by mere wishful thinking? This well-crafted, thoughtful, and engaging text is guaranteed to provide readers with plenty of food for thought.''--Julie J. Exline, Associate Professor of Psychology, Case Western Reserve University
“Using social scientific research, Beck identifies the flaws in Freud’s dismissal of religion as a neurotic defense against mortal dread. He draws on the writings of William James to show the complexity of religious belief, which emphasizes the uniqueness of the individual believer. Written in a way that is accessible to readers who aren’t trained in social scientific research, but rigorous in meeting the standards of the social sciences, The Authenticity of Faith is a masterful example of the ‘new apologetics.’”--Steven Rouse, Professor of Psychology, Pepperdine University
I would also like to thank the readers of my blog Experimental Theology where early drafts of this material first appeared. I’m blessed to have one of the most intelligent and thoughtful readerships on the Internet. A warm thank-you to my readers for your many helpful comments, feedback, and encouragement. You were the first to let me know that this material deserved a wide audience.In the early days of this blog I did a series called "Freud's Ghost: The Quest for an Authentic Faith." Some of you will remember it. When I wrote that series I had yet to do the empirical work to support the argument I was making then. Years later those studies have now been done, the laboratory work to support my hunch that Williams James was right (in contrast to Freud's "one size fits all" account of faith) in speaking about religious varieties.
In all this, The Authenticity of Faith represents my long personal and professional engagement with Freud's critique of religious belief. It all started in college when I turned to face the question squarely: Did I believe in God or heaven because it made me happy?
After years of self-reflection and research, through seasons where my faith has ebbed and flowed, The Authenticity of Faith is my answer.